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By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
July 23, 1993


Steve Barron
Dan Aykroyd;
Jane Curtin;
Michelle Burke;
Michael McKean;
Jason Alexander;
Lisa Jane Persky;
Laraine Newman;
Chris Farley;
Dave Thomas;
Jan Hooks;
Phil Hartman;
Jon Lovitz;
David Spade;
Michael Richards
Parental guidance suggested

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It's very funny in places, even sort of tender. But let's not get out of hand. We're talking about "Coneheads," yet another "Saturday Night Live" sketch spinoff -- and one of several frenzied grabs for the market that made "Wayne's World" such a big hit last year. There's even talk of a movie version of "Pat," the SNL show's mildly amusing sketch about a gender-ambiguous character.

With its rather cheapie look (this did not have the budget of "Jurassic Park," to say the least), "Coneheads" is ironically more suitable as video entertainment. On the big screen it looks slight, almost embarrassed to be taking up so much wall space. On the TV screen (or "pleasure tone spewer," as the Coneheads would call it), it'll be just right again. Which seems like a long route for this project to take -- just to get back where it all started.

Big or small, "Coneheads" has its share of amusing-mood enhancement. Reprising their roles from the "SNL" sketch of the late '70s, Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin re-don their bald tops and fall into perfectly interlocked comic pace. They are, respectively, Beldar and Prymaat, married, fast-talking Coneheads from the Planet Remulac (within the Cone Nebula, 26 light years from Earth). While the pair are on a mission to conquer Earth, their spaceship makes a bad turn and lands in the East River. Forced to adapt to the terrain until a rescue vessel arrives, they decide to "live undetected on earth amongst the blunt skulls." No problem: Everyone takes them at their word that they're from "France." And with their hyper-intelligence and resourcefulness, they have an immediate advantage over the locals.

When Beldar's first employer (Sinbad) purchases a black-market Social Security number for the diligent extraterrestrial, it raises a big flag at the Immigration and Naturalization Service. For the rest of the movie, Beldar, Prymaat and their soon-to-be-Earthborn daughter, Connie (newcomer Michelle Burke), will be pursued by xenophobic INS agents Gorman Seedling (Michael McKean) and Eli Turnbull (David Spade).

They're also about to undergo the classic American immigration story, as they attempt to assimilate. Of course, there are things about them that remain distinctly Cone-like. Nothing they can do will prevent them from looking like the Rockies. They sleep upright against their beds. They "consume mass quantities" at the dinner table, intermixing human food with less-than-comestible additives -- like WD-40, toilet paper and insulation. For them, condoms make a great chewing gum; and as always, they swig beer a six-pack at a time.

Their intentions to return to Remulac (and restart the conquering process) become more difficult, as the Coneheads become more attached to their surroundings. Beldar really gets into his golf game. Prymaat becomes quite the designer-clad wife. Connie grows up to be a normal American teenager. When she starts up a romance with car mechanic Ronnie (Chris Farley), her desire to settle in the cosmic old country becomes less than minimal.

The movie's main joke is its rapid-fire Conespeak, which puts a distinctly alien-meets-"Dragnet" spin on regular human activity. Surveying his first, ramshackle abode, Beldar determines to upwardly relocate to a suburban neighborhood "with a stronger economic matrix that will not tax us to death." When Prymaat realizes she's pregnant with Connie, she poignantly informs her husband, "I am with cone." Some Cone-isms need no translation, especially when Beldar learns from mechanic Ronnie his car is not yet ready: "It is as if you have seized me at the base of the snarglies," he retorts with exasperation.

The movie's full of supporting parts and cameos from familiar television faces, including Michael Richards and Jason Alexander from the "Seinfeld" show (both very funny); and SNL regulars Phil Hartman, Kevin Nealon, Julia Sweeney, Adam Sandler and Tim Meadows. As for the older SNL gang, Garrett Morris makes a quickie appearance, as does former SNL Conehead daughter Laraine Newman, as Connie's aunt. They're all part of a respectably funny -- but small -- effort, a reunion party best watched in your living room, while you consume mass quantities of pizza with extra molten lactate extract of hooved mammals.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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